Football is the ultimate team sport. And with that it also means more than any other sport it becomes games within the game. Here are a few key match-ups to look for in this game, who has the advantage and who ultimately should win this game.
The first key match-up to look at is going to be the Ravens Offensive line versus the 49ers defensive line. Both strengths of each team, it is imperative that they each get going early. The Baltimore Ravens have only given up seven sacks in three playoff games and the San Francisco 49er leading sack man Aldon Smith, with 19.5 sacks on the season, has not recorded a sack since week 14. More importantly he has only recorded one sack with Justin Smith out of the lineup. With Justin Smith returning today he should have more opportunities for one on one match- ups. If the 49ers can’t get pressure on Joe Flacco its going to be a long day for that defense. I do think that the Ravens offensive line is playing well right now and their ability to be balanced on offense will play to their favor. Advantage RAVENS
The next match-up to look at is the Ray Rice versus the 49ers front seven. The 49ers might arguably have the best linebacking core in all of football with All-Pro Linebackers Patrick Willis and Navaro Bowman. They are fast. They are physical. And they are very smart football players and can cover running backs and tight ends in space. Ray Rice has on more than one occasion carried this team and offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell isn’t afraid to feed him the ball even if the run isn’t working. I think the running game of the Ravens won’t be effective and Ray Rice best opportunity to contribute to this game will be in the screen and catching the ball out of the backfield. Advantage 49ERS
We also need to look at the 49ers secondary versus the receivers of the Ravens. This I think will be the most important element in today’s game. The Ravens receivers are averaging 16.7 yards per catch in the playoffs and the big plays that have been made by Boldin, Smith, and Jones have lifted the Ravens to where they are right now. If there is a weakness in the defense of the 49ers it has to lie on their outside corners. Atlanta took advantage of them in the first half of the NFC Championship game, and I think the Ravens will look to that game as a strength versus weakness match-up in their favor. It will be key that the safeties stay at home and don’t get beat deep. Advantage RAVENS
Looking at Colin Kaepernick versus the Ravens defense I think this match-up is the best shot that 49ers have of winning this game. Kaepernick is a dynamic player and hie effectiveness out of the Pistol Formation both rushing and passing should keep the Ravens on edge. The Ravens defense is probably as healthy as it has been all season with its four stars (Nata, Suggs, Lewis, and Reed) all playing together for only the 4th time this season. The Ravens will have to play assignment football to try and contain him, and I don’t think the NFL has quite figured this out yet and there will be holes for Kaepernick to take advantage of. Advantage 49ers
All in all, this is one of the most balanced Super Bowls we have had in a while and I could see the game going either way for either team. I like the Ravens in this game to win on account of the play of Joe Flacco and his ability to take advantage of the 49ers on the outside.
27-21 Ravens over 49ers
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